THE brother of a nine-year-old girl shot dead during an INLA feud was trained as a gunman when he was 13, a report has revealed. The Historical Enquiries Team report into the 1996 murder of schoolgirl Barbara McAlorum in the living room of her home said her brother Kevin was the intended target. No-one has ever been charged in connection with the shooting.
However, the report also revealed that McAlorum – the man who is believed to have killed INLA chief of Staff Gino Gallagher in the same year-had been trained in the use of firearms when he was still a schoolboy.Kevin McAlorum snr told Historical Enquiries Team investigators that ex-INLA leader Hugh Torney, also murdered in 1996, trained Kevin jnr ” when he was only 13 “. He told investigators he has ” no doubt ” that his son killed Gallagher despite the fact that he was never charged with the murder.McAlorum jnr was shot dead in 2004. The killing was widely seen as a reprisal attack for Gallagher’s murder.
The report on Barbara’s killing also reveals that the gun used had been stolen from a part-time Royal Irish Regiment soldier two years earlier. It found that 10 suspects, four including the man who is believed to have shot Barbara dead – were never arrested or questioned about the killing. Margaret McAlorum, an aunt of Barbara’s, said she believes the INLA killers are being protected, she said she does not believe the family will ever get justice. ” The killers never even burnt the car. They didn’t need to – they were that confident that they would never be charged with killing Barbara,” she said.
A GUN used in the murder of a nine-year-old schoolgirl killed during a bloody INLA feud – had been stolen from a member of the Royal Irish Regiment two years previously, a report has revealed. The Smith and Wesson semi automatic pistol had never been used until March 15 1996 when Barbara McAlorum was killed as she played on the floor of her Ashfield Gardens home in North Belfast. The intended target of the shooting was Barbara’s half brother Kevin McAlorum who was believed to have murdered INLA Chief-of-Staff Gino Gallagher two months earlier.
A Historical Enquiries Team (HET ) report into the shooting has revealed details of the murder weapon, which was used to carry out 17 paramilitary-type shootings between June 2000 and 2003. While the report says the weapon was never recovered, The Irish News understands it was among a haul of guns decommissioned by the INLA in 2010. The HET report into the school-girls murder identified 10 suspects, including the man whose taxi was used by the gunmen as a getaway car.
He had originally been seen as a witness but later became a suspect and was arrested by detectives but refused to answer any questions. He is on remand in Prison in relation to a Paramilitary extortion case. Six suspects in total were questioned while four others including the suspected killer, were never arrested. The HET review of the case states ” There is no explanation why the other four people were not arrested”. It also concludes that a number of forensic opportunities were also overlooked by detectives at the time. The getaway car, a white Nissan, was not burnt by the gunmen as would have been common practice in paramilitary attacks.
It was recovered the following day. Fibres were taken from the car’s interior and 14 cigarette butts collected from both the front and rear ashtrays. None of these items were examined at the forensic science laboratory at the time and while they are still available the report says they have been stored incorrectly and so now have no evidential worth. Barbara McAlorum’s aunt Margaret said the report has left her doubting whether the family would ever get justice. ” An innocent little child was murdered and yet not one person has been charged and, going on the HET report, no-one ever will,” she said.
” There seemed to be no effort on behalf of the RUC to stop the feud and we always believed that informers were involved. ” We always suspected that Barbara’s killer, the man who pulled the trigger, was being protected. ” The report says he was never arrested and no explanation was ever given as to why. ” The killers never even burnt the car. They didn’t need to they were that confident that they would never be charged with killing Barbara,” she said. ” At least now people can see what we have been saying for 16 years is true – that the person who killed Barbara was protected and no effort was made by the RUC to catch him for what he did.”
HET REVEALS McALORUM TRAINED TO USE GUN AT 13
Kevin McAlorum – who was the intended target of an INLA gun attack which left his younger sister dead – had been trained to use a gun when he was 13. The HET report into the schoolgirl’s murder reveals that her brother had been shown how to use firearms by leading INLA figures including Chief-of-Staff Hugh Torney. McAlorum would go on to become the organisation’s most prolific hit-man and was widely believed to be responsible for the feud-related killing of Gino Gallagher in January 1996. His father, also Kevin, told the HET that he has ” no doubt whatsoever ” that his son killed Gallagher despite never being charged with the murder. He added that he was told by a person he considers ” an impeccable source ” that former INLA leader Hugh Torney and John Fennell – both murdered as part of the feud – had trained his son ” as a gunman when he was only 13″.
In January 1996 McAlorum walked into a social security office on the Falls Road in West Belfast and shot INLA Chief Gino Gallagher at point-blank range. The killing sparked a spate of blood-letting, with the schoolgirl Barbara being shot dead in a reprisal attack by those loyal to Gallagher two months later. In April of the same year McAlorum was arrested accused of trying to murder two members of the IRSP – the political wing of the INLA. The 31-year-old was shot dead as he dropped his children off at Oakwood Primary School in Derriaghy in South Belfast on June 3 2004. The killing was believed to be in reprisal for the murder of Gino Gallagher. Margaret McAlorum, an aunt to both Kevin and Barbara, said she cried when she read the report’s description of her dead nephew. ” Kevin was a vulnerable child the fact that those men took an innocent schoolboy and turned him into a killer is just beyond belief. ” What chance did he have in life, when you think someone put a gun into the hand of a 13-year-old boy ?”.
INLA’s BLOODY INTERNAL DISPUTE !
The murder of schoolgirl Barbara McAlorum took place amid a bloody feud within the INLA. She was shot by gunmen close to those loyal to murdered INLA leader Gino Gallagher. Gallagher was in the head at point-blank range as he sat in a social security office on the Falls Road in January 1996. While no-one was ever charged the gunman was widely believed to be Kevin McAlorum, a half brother of Barbara.
The internal dispute started in April 1995 when INLA ‘ Chief-of-Staff ‘ Hugh Torney along with Sean Braniff, Dessie McCleary and Anthony Gorman appeared in court in Dublin charged in connection with a gun-running plot. In court a solicitor announced the INLA had called a ceasefire. Torney was bailed and went on the run but the courtroom declaration angered many within the organisation who had not approved the statement. Following Gallagher’s murder John Fennell was found beaten to death in a caravan park in Bundoran Co Donegal in March 1996. In May of the same year Dessie McCleary, who had appeared in court with Torney, was shot dead in a restaurant in Belfast’s Dublin Road in front of his German girlfriend.
Two months later in June 1996 another INLA member Fra Shannon was shot dead as he left a house in Turf Lodge in West Belfast. From Ardoyne in the north of the city he was wearing a wig and body armour at the time. In September 1996 Torney (42) was murdered in Lurgan, Co Armagh after being shot 14 times by his former INLA associates. McAlorum survived several attempts on his life including one in Maghaberry prison in April 1997. INLA members Christopher ‘ Crip ‘ McWilliams and John Kenneway were ordered to kill McAlorum, who was at the time was serving a jail term for attempted murder. The two held a prison officer hostage but failed to reach McAlorum after the prison was locked down amid the security alert. McWilliams and Kenneway were transferred to the Maze prison were they would go on to murder LVF boss Billy Wright eight months later. Former comrades, however, caught up with McAlorum, who also went by the name of Kevin McGuinness, in June 2004 and shot the 31-year-old dead as he left his children to school. His death brought to seven the number of people to die as a result of the feud. No-one has ever been charged with his murder.
WITH MANY THANKS TO : ALLISON MORRIS, IRISH NEWS.
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